Answering challenge from former Cramer Hill student…! Here you go!

Dear Readers, and especially today, dear Maureen,

Back in the day (before people said “back in the day”) I taught Language Arts to Grades Six, Seven and Eight.  Now that experience is a real blog and a half, but I’ll save that one for another day.  Somehow, some of those students from St. Anthony of Padua School, still on River Avenue in Cramer Hill, connected with me on Facebook.

How young and inexperienced I was?  Some students were only eight years younger than I was.  Oh boy.

Anyway, Maureen, one of those kids, and I reconnected and we discovered that we were both still Cramer Hill women, pet lovers and crazy readers.  She challenged me on Facebook to list ten books that have stayed with me.  Thanks a lot, Maureen.  Ten?  Only ten?

I accept that challenge today, but they’re ten that just pop into my head…not maybe not all are the tippity-top ten.  No theme.  Just whatever comes to mind, okay?

1.  The Bible–when I went to State Street Methodist Church in North Camden and I was a fifth-grader at John S. Read, I challenged myself to read the entire Bible.  I didn’t understand huge parts of it and I knew that I was reading what I didn’t understand, but I loved it.  I ended up memorizing Psalms for myself.

2. Charlotte’s Web–it was serialized in the Camden Courier-Post when I was in elementary school and later I read it in book form.  The last class that I had enjoyed the bilingual teacher reading it to them and it brought back memories as well as a few tears for Charlotte.

3.  The Cat in the Hat–I read this book so many times to my brother, Ken, that I could recite it and I still remember a lot of it.  “The sun was not out, it was too wet to play, so we sat in the house, all that cold, cold wet day…”  Hope that’s right!

4. Jane Eyre–my mom took me to Lit Brothers in downtown Camden and bought that for me along with David Copperfield with birthday money from my grandmother.  I read both of these thick, small print paperbacks over and over.  Again, I was in the fifth grade–the peak of my intellectual heights.

5. Anne of Green Gables–how I loved this red-haired girl who wanted a family and I loved her friend, Diana.  I read the entire series and as an adult, I found out that people from all over the world make pilgrimages to the home of the Canadian author, Lucy Montgomery.

6.  Little Women–I didn’t have sisters and how I would have loved to have been one of the March sisters, except not, of course, the one who died.  Can I remember her name?  Not Meg, not Jo, not Amy…  Okay.  Beth.    Thanks, Google.

7. Stone Fox–I read this children’s novel by John Reynolds Gardiner to students after school at Martin Lutheran Christian Day School in Pennsauken.  My daughter, Kim, was humiliated to see her mother choke up in front of her friends.  Hey, they all were almost crying at the end.  Grade Three?

8. No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency–I love, love, love Precious Ramotswe,  the detective, and her life in Botswana.  It is written beautifully.  I recommend the entire series.

9. Me Talk Pretty One  Day–made me laugh on a day in my life when I thought that I would never smile again.  Thanks, David Sedaris.  I laughed my butt off right in Barnes & Noble.  Joking, still have that butt…

10. Angela’s Ashes–I rue the day that I wrote a fan letter to Frank McCourt and never mailed it. He died and I thank Frank from  Earth to Heaven.  I read this book at a New Jersey state softball championship–lots of time in between six games.  The She Devils (my daughter’s team) won the trophy and I held the dubious distinction of being the only parent with a book.

I wonder what books have stayed with you?   I’d love to hear from you.

Marguerite Ferra

Cramer Hill


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